Private Equity, Private Media

Ronald V. Bettig

Abstract


Recent dramatic increases in private equity (PE) control of publicly-traded media companies raise a number of serious concerns for communications scholars, media consumers, and active citizens. The effects of PE activities include increased concentration in an already highly concentrated communications industry, a shift of control of media from Wall Street to PE firms, and a tougher time for media workers. Furthermore, PE firms are literally private—as in secret—hence the general public remains largely uninformed about PE buyouts of media firms. Issues include the control of capital in the U.S. and globally, and the ways in which this control shapes media content and form. Finally, since PE firms do not have to file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission, valuable information upon which radical political economists have traditionally relied to investigate relationships between capital and communications also has become private. This essay explores and analyzes the entry of PE into the communications system with four compelling examples.


Keywords


Mass Medi;Political Economy;Private Equity;Privatization

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